Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Research article
25 Apr 2018
Research article |  | 25 Apr 2018

Geomagnetic field declination: from decadal to centennial scales

Venera Dobrica, Crisan Demetrescu, and Mioara Mandea

Abstract. Declination annual mean time series longer than 1 century provided by 24 geomagnetic observatories worldwide, together with 5 Western European reconstructed declination series over the last 4 centuries, have been analyzed in terms of the frequency constituents of the secular variation at inter-decadal and sub-centennial timescales of 20–35 and 70–90 years. Observatory and reconstructed time series have been processed by several types of filtering, namely Hodrick–Prescott, running averages, and Butterworth. The Hodrick–Prescott filtering allows us to separate a quasi-oscillation at a decadal timescale, which is assumed to be related to external variations and called the 11-year constituent, from a long-term trend. The latter has been decomposed into two other oscillations called inter-decadal and sub-centennial constituents by applying a Butterworth filtering with cutoffs at 30 and 73 years, respectively. The analysis shows that the generally accepted geomagnetic jerks occur around extrema in the time derivative of the trend and coincide with extrema in the time derivative of the 11-year constituent. The sub-centennial constituent is traced back to 1600 in the five 400-year-long time series and seems to be a major constituent of the secular variation, geomagnetic jerks included.

Short summary
By analyzing frequency constituents of declination secular variation at inter-decadal and sub-centennial timescales from geomagnetic observatories with data longer than 1 century and several historical data sets, we suggest that the geomagnetic jerk concept should be considered as a more general notion, namely the evolution of the secular variation as a result of the superposition of two (or more) constituents describing the effects of processes in the Earth’s core at two (or more) timescales.